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Sound cards for games. What exactly do they do? +some TrueAudio Discussion

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hey guys this is gonna be a really uninformed post but here we go:

So, with AMD's trueaudio getting me excited about the future of sound performance in games, I was wondering if it was already possible to achieve some similar effects (I believe the term is HRTF?) with a high quality sound card in games? I realize it's totally up to the developer to add sound effects to the game and thus where my hesitance to buy something like an Asus Xonar Essence STX stems from. I really LOVE the effects at this part of this youtube demo of the AstoundSound plug-in youtube demo of the AstoundSound.

I have Sennheiser 598s so my headphones are pretty decent I would say, but I have no DAC and no AMP and I would really like to boost the quality of my sound. I generally do about 80% gaming to 20% music listening on this machine so gaming is priority numero uno. My last sound card was an ancient creative X-FI Xtremegamer and I was not impressed - though that's probably because it was like $40 and didn't get me very far in terms of sound quality biggrin.gif (I also used Audiotechnica ATH-AD700's back then).

tl;dr - Is it worth getting a high end sound card for gaming sound quality these days? I will be getting a GTX 780 next week so I will not have TrueAudio and nvidia has not (yet) released a potential competitor to TA.

one last quick note about my 598's the 3.5mm adapter is bent because my dog caught her leg on the cord and viciously ripped it out of my motherboard (also damaged the motherboard green jack - another reason I would like to upgrade), it still sounds just fine when I use my headphones but it has to be in the correct position inside the jack to play through both earphones.
    
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post #2 of 6
Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z sound card (SB1500), $85.
http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Blaster-Beamforming-Microphone-SB1500/dp/B009ISU33E

If your willing to play more ($160-$180) and would like a volume knob at your finger tips.
Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card, used $60 (same CS4398 DAC chip as the SB-Z)
Schiit Magni or O2 external headphone amplifier, $100-$120
(better amps then the SB-Z's)

Replacement audio cable (3.5mm plug) for the Senn HD518/HD558/HD598, $21.80
http://www.ebay.com/itm/261255113290?var=560215640800&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649
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post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tacoboy View Post

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z sound card (SB1500), $85.
http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Blaster-Beamforming-Microphone-SB1500/dp/B009ISU33E

If your willing to play more ($160-$180) and would like a volume knob at your finger tips.
Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card, used $60 (same CS4398 DAC chip as the SB-Z)
Schiit Magni or O2 external headphone amplifier, $100-$120
(better amps then the SB-Z's)

Replacement audio cable (3.5mm plug) for the Senn HD518/HD558/HD598, $21.80
http://www.ebay.com/itm/261255113290?var=560215640800&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

Ya know I was looking at Schiit for external amps a while ago. It was basically down to "should I get a sound card or a schiit amp?" in my mind. I'm leaning more towards a sound card at this point because of the CPU offloading/more gaming oriented features like positional audio enhancements (is that a real thing?) with some increased sound resolution/clarity/whatever the term is.

And yes I will be getting a replacement audio cable once I've made my decision. Luckily there's no damage on the 598's jack. I was furious with my dog when she very nearly destroyed my sennheisers but I couldn't stay mad at her for long I mean, she is a dog. Now I am extremely careful with my 598s. How do you feel about the Xonar Phoebus solo? or the Essence STX? Is spending an extra hundo for either of these cards going to get me increased sound quality from either of these cards? Is that EMI shielding going to do anything? To be honest I prefer ASUS over Creative.

Thanks for the suggestions.
    
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post #4 of 6
Ya know I was looking at Schiit for external amps a while ago. It was basically down to "should I get a sound card or a schiit amp?" in my mind. I'm leaning more towards a sound card at this point because of the CPU offloading/more gaming oriented features like positional audio enhancements (is that a real thing?) with some increased sound resolution/clarity/whatever the term is.
And yes I will be getting a replacement audio cable once I've made my decision. Luckily there's no damage on the 598's jack. I was furious with my dog when she very nearly destroyed my sennheisers but I couldn't stay mad at her for long I mean, she is a dog. Now I am extremely careful with my 598s. How do you feel about the Xonar Phoebus solo? or the Essence STX? Is spending an extra hundo for either of these cards going to get me increased sound quality from either of these cards? Is that EMI shielding going to do anything? To be honest I prefer ASUS over Creative.


I do prefer Asus over Creative sound cards.
I think an Asus Xonar DX sound card, used with a Schiit Magni or O2 (Objective 2) amplifier, makes a good combo.
The Xonar DX uses the same CMI8788 audio processor as the Essence STX/ST, the Phoebus uses the newer CMI8888.
But what I like the best is using an external headphone amplifier like the Schiit Magni or O2, which i think is at least slightly better then the headphone amplifier built into the STX/ST/Phoebus.
Plus you can use the external head amp with more then just your PC.
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post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Craftyman View Post

I'm leaning more towards a sound card at this point because of the CPU offloading/more gaming oriented features like positional audio enhancements (is that a real thing?) with some increased sound resolution/clarity/whatever the term is..

CPU usage with audio is a non-issue these days. What sound cards can do is take raw 5.1 audio from games and downmix it through dolby headphone (asus cards) or SBX (newer creative cards) into stereo for headphones that simulates surround sound.

If you want a sound card for simulated surround, I wouldn't spend any more than the Creative Z or mid range Asus. The HD598 don't need much power, and if you find yourself needed more juice in the future, then just get a dedicated amp and hook it up to the sound card.
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post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Alright I've decided to get the Soundblaster Z after doing some research. It has the same 116 SNR as the Xonar DX but also comes with some sweet EMI shielding (which I'm still not certain actually makes a difference but hell it looks cool) It's also full width which I like the looks of better than low profile cards. I don't know, psychologically having a full width card gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. I guess it was years of being traumatized by an nVidia FX5200's abysmal performance in my childhood biggrin.gif.
    
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